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Untapped Potential: Greg Oden

Stephen Dunn / Denver Stiffs

Last time on our Untapped Potential series, we dove into the career of Al Toon and the promise of what could have been a long and dominant career. Today, we are going over one of the most dynamic collegiate basketball players at the center position in Greg Oden. This is the first Untapped Potential article for Back Sports Page’s basketball section.

College Ball

Oden played his collegiate basketball at Ohio State University. The Buckeye dominated his competition averaging a near double-double per game in his freshman year. Oden averaged 15.7 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game, and 3.3 blocks per game in his sole collegiate year.

There was a laundry list of accolades awarded to him including NCAA All-Tourney, Consensus All-American, 2006-2007 All-Big Ten, and Big Ten All-Freshman. The Buckeye center played a crucial part to the getting the Buckeyes to the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship before falling to the University of Florida.

NBA Draft

The Ohio State alum decided to enter the 2007 NBA Draft after a dominant freshman season with the Buckeyes. Oden was selected first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. Kevin Durant was selected second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics right after Oden. This was before the team was relocated and renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Whether Durant or Oden should’ve gone number one in the draft was a hotly contested debate that year. Oden was poised to become a franchise player and a superstar coming out of college.

2007-2008 (Rookie Year)

The Indiana native missed his rookie year dealing with a season-ending knee injury which required him to undergo a microfracture surgery on his right knee. Oden was the first number-one overall pick to miss his rookie season since David Robinson.

2008-2009 (Second Year)

The young centers first taste of NBA action did not start off strong. Oden was held scoreless against the Los Angeles Lakers and left the game with a foot injury after playing just thirteen minutes. Oden was able to bounce back and played great basketball in January. The Buffalo product logged a twenty-two point, ten rebound game against the Golden State Warriors in only twenty-nine minutes.

“G.O.” missed more than a month with a kneecap injury after colliding with Corey Maggette just when he was looking like he would recover. Oden finished the season averaging 8.9 ppg, 7 rpg, and 1.1. bpg.

2009-2010 (Third Year)

In his third season, Oden started off strong collecting twelve rebounds and five blocks in the season-opener in a win against the Houston Rockets. Oden put on a show in late November against the Chicago Bulls scoring twenty-four points, twelve rebounds, and two blocks. The Blazer center averaged 11.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 2.3 bpg.

Oden unfortunately only played in twenty-one games due to another knee injury. Aaron Brooks unintentionally injured Oden after hitting a floater over the center. This collision caused Oden to fracture his left patella and needed to be carried off in a stretcher.


Oden never suited up for a game during this time period. The former Buckeye was expected to play under his qualifying offer in the 2011-2012 season. Junior unfortunately suffered a setback while trying to return which held him out even longer.

2013-2014 (Last Year)

Oden was waived by the Trail Blazers in March of 2012. The embattled Oden signed with the Miami Heat in hopes of rejuvenating his career. The center only played in twenty-three games averaging 2.9 ppg and 2.3 rpg in just 9.2 minutes per game.

Early Retirement

Oden decided to retire in the 2013-2014 season due to sustained injuries to his knees that he suffered throughout his time in the NBA. The injury prone center had so much untapped potential and if it were not for injuries, he could have had an illustrious NBA career.

Viral Video

There was a viral video that surfaced a couple of years ago of an older woman asking if Oden used to play basketball. Oden was nice and joked around with the woman, but once he walked away you could see how upset he was.

Back to the Buckeyes

Oden returned to his alma mater before the 2016-2017 season working as a student team-manager while going back to get his degree in Sport Industry. The former Trail Blazer wants to pursue a career in coaching and joined the Buckeyes staff as a graduate assistant in the 2021-2022 season earning his masters in Sports Coaching.

Present Day

Oden spent time playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, TBT and the Big 3 after his time in the NBA. The family man is married to his wife Sabrina since 2017 and the couple has a daughter named Londyn. Oden is now the Director of Basketball Operations at Butler University.

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